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Filipino-Americans and foreign students crowd Philippine schools

Philippine schools have boomed with the enrollment of foreigners who want better education and additional expertise in Filipino and English language

Gulf News

Manila: A California-based Filipina, Eva Jaakolaa, married to a US-based Finnish  national, was happy to finish her nursing course at the University  of Makati come October.

During an early celebration of her upcoming graduation in an Italian restaurant in Morato, Quezon City, she thanked relatives and housemaids for taking care of her and her daughter Gabriela Jaakolla, now three, who came with her to Manila two years ago.

Her husband Teppo in San Francisco also celebrated with the family through the internet.

She is one of many US-based Filipino-Americans who have discovered the wonders of studying in high-calibre, but affordable Philippine universities, plus the added joy of bonding with a caring family.

Her sister Olive Joy in San Francisco has also been shopping for a course and a school for further education in the Philippines.

Philippine schools have also boomed with the enrollment of foreigners who want better education and additional expertise in Filipino and English language.

"It's like hitting two birds with one stone," explained Mariko Akino, a Japanese national who once studied at the University of the Philippine to learn about the dynamics of Filipino families and Filipino and English languages.

"Me and my friends are happy with our medical studies here: we get good education and we pay less," said student Aurora Clay, satisfied with her $1,500 tuition fee a semester for a medical course.

Meynard Halili, known as a disciplinarian and a strict assessor of graduating pilots, said that foreigners have been flocking to Air Works, his flying school in suburban Pasay City.

People from Thailand have been studying agriculture at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Los Banos, southern Luzon. The school can adequately teach bio-diversity because it is based on Mount Makiling, long established as one of the world's highly diversified mountains, said Professor Prospero de Vera.

Because of the high number of South Koreans learning English in Philippine schools, Korean restaurants have sprouted at the University of the Philippines' commercial area in Quezon City.

"My classmates earn when they tutor me in English," said Kim Choi.

Some 25,000 foreign students will attend Philippine school next week, the Bureau of Immigration said.

Meanwhile, Dawn Abrogar said that she and husband Alan have worked hard for the expensive education of their second son Dino in La Naval, Spain. Earlier, another son Adi was in the same school. "They could get up the corporate ladder faster than others," the proud parents attested.

Not to be outsmarted, many middle class students in Manila have also aimed for one hundred percent scholarships, including free board and lodging in US Ivy Leagues this September, said a US Embassy official.

"In the Philippines, many believe that education abroad is good. I am one of them," said Jose Rodriguez, a Spanish executive director at Instituto Cervantes, Manila's language and cultural institution, whose children by a Filipina wife have studied in Madrid.

When the Philippines was colonized by Spain for 400 years, from the 16th century until 1898, Spanish authorities and various religious orders established private schools that are now expensive private schools that also cater to foreign students.

When American colonials took over in 1898 and stayed for 100 more years, they established public schools, foremost of which is the University of the Philippines (UP), a premier school that has produced presidents, senators, congressmen, judges, and lawyers.

Of the more than 2,500 private and public educational institutions in the Philippines, four of them have entered QS's list of top 200 Asian universities for 2011. UP ranked 62nd; Ateneo de Manila University (68th); University of Santo Tomas (older than Harvard, 104th); and De La Salle University (107th).

Eleven other universities across the Philippines were also in QS's 201st ranking: the Mindanao State University (in the south), Xavier University (Manila), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (Manila), Silliman University (central Philippines), Father Saturnino Urios College (southern Philippines), Mapua Institute of Technology (Manila), Adamson University (Manila), Saint Louis University (northern Philippines), Central Mindanao University, University of San Carlos, and University of Southeastern Philippines (both in the southern Philippines).